Darwiniana

History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

Darwiniana header image 2

Crisis of modernity (video)

July 8th, 2015 · No Comments

I set up the blogbook at Blogger, but I am out of time. The book indicated is already done: Last and First Men.
I will use what I have with the video and leave it at that.
We are going to continue with an idea from a while back of a series of posts to make up a book, with some video in tow. We can begin with some draft/notes on the way…
The Crisis of Modernity
July 5, 2015

Introduction: The Crisis of Modernity

The last generation has seen the vagaries of the postmodern fad attempt to perform a kind of debriefing of the ‘modern’ with results that were confused because the issue was not the modern period but the confusion of the postmodern idea itself. The ‘dialectic of the Enlightenment’ was a perfectly good effort to examine that period but the results were more about the later misinterpretations than the original period itself. The Enlightenment period is really five or six ‘enlightenments’, the French and the German but two examples, and it is hard to focus on its ‘core message’ which doesn’t really exist. A good example is the difference between concepts of ‘Enlightenment Reason’ in figures such as Hegel, the French Philosophes, and the later secular humanists. The postmodern idea was much favored by many in the so-called ‘new age’ movement because it seemed as though the ‘post’ period of ‘modernity’ could allow a challenge to the dreaded ‘secularism’ of modernity and allow a new era after the modern to restart the question of religion in society. It was somehow wrong for the modern world to have no direct connection to religion and this appeared to invalidate its status as in some fashion the onset of a new era. And many new age groups and their gurus have indirectly challenged the modern as a failed category because of its presumed faults and its inability to provide a venue for the spiritual. In the apocalyptic version we are confronted with the spectacle of the end times and this demands a restoration of the presumed spirituality of an earlier epoch to the entropic state of affairs we call the ‘modern’. In the nonce the idea of an Aquarian Age, this based on the myths of the cycles of the Great Year and other astrological fictions, took off in the seventies, but the concept failed completely, even among new agers. The seventies of the last century were a very poor candidate for the onset of a new age. And that’s the point: It is impossible to compete with the early modern. It is the source of so many innovations that to negate it requires reinventing a huge list of foundation concepts, well beyond the capacity of the new age movement with its troglodyte gurus.
Thus these religious preoccupations have missed the point. If we examine the transition to modernity we find all the elements for a new civilization, one that can do equal justice to the religious concerns of antiquity and yet fulfill the tasks of a new creativity in the movement toward an unrealized future novelties.If we adopt the platform of the gurus and their ashrams we are still in the realm of the law of caste. New Age philosophers seem unable to grasp the issues of the modern translation and a close look shows the rejection of democracy itself.

If we examine the situation carefully it would seem that the issue is not modernity but the decline from its initializations and creative foundations. We can see the dilemma by looking no further than to the American system where a foundational period in the early modern created a robust democratic state only to see this begin to ‘deviate from its initial conditions’ as a gestating empire, with an acceleration of this decline in the era after 9/11 in the increasingly alarming spectacle of an empire in the throes of imperial wars.

The question of modernity has always been controversial but the present generation has seen the broad acceptance of modernity against its critics mixed with a genuine crisis that is a new challenge to the era of modernist globalization. The last generation has seen the vagaries of the postmodern fad attempt to perform a kind of debriefing of the ‘modern’ with results that were confused because the issue was not the modern period but the confusion of the postmodern idea itself.

The ‘dialectic of the Enlightenment’ was a perfectly good effort to examine that period but the results were more about the later misinterpretations than the original period itself. The Enlightenment period is really five or six ‘enlightenments’, the French and the German but two examples, and it is hard to focus on its ‘core message’ which doesn’t really exist.

A good example is the difference between concepts of ‘Enlightenment Reason’ in figures such as Hegel, the French Philosophes, and the later secular humanists. The postmodern idea was much favored by many in the so-called ‘new age’ movement because it seemed as though the ‘post’ period of ‘modernity’ could allow a challenge to the dreaded ‘secularism’ of modernity and allow a new era after the modern to restart the question of religion in society.

It was somehow wrong for the modern world to have no direct connection to religion and this appeared to invalidate its status as in some fashion the onset of a new era. And many new age groups and their gurus have indirectly challenged the modern as a failed category because of its presumed faults and its inability to provide a venue for the spiritual. In the apocalyptic version we are confronted with the spectacle of the end times and this demands a restoration of the presumed spirituality of an earlier epoch to the entropic state of affairs we call the ‘modern’. In the nonce the idea of an Aquarian Age, this based on the myths of the cycles of the Great Year and other astrological fictions, took off in the seventies, but the concept failed completely, even among new agers. The seventies of the last century were a very poor candidate for the onset of a new age. And that’s the point: It is impossible to compete with the early modern. It is the source of so many innovations that to negate it requires reinventing a huge list of foundation concepts, well beyond the capacity of the new age movement with its troglodyte gurus.

Thus these religious preoccupations have missed the point. If we examine the transition to modernity we find all the elements for a new civilization, one that can do equal justice to the religious concerns of antiquity and yet fulfill the tasks of a new creativity in the movement toward an unrealized future novelties.If we adopt the platform of the gurus and their ashrams we are still in the realm of the law of caste. New Age philosophers seem unable to grasp the issues of the modern translation and a close look shows the rejection of democracy itself.
If we examine the situation carefully it would seem that the issue is not modernity but the decline from its initializations and creative foundations. We can see the dilemma by looking no further than to the American system where a foundational period in the early modern created a robust democratic state only to see this begin to ‘deviate from its initial conditions’ as a gestating empire, with an acceleration of this decline in the era after 9/11 in the increasingly alarming spectacle of an empire in the throes of imperial wars.
The question of modernity can’t be solved with out an understanding of the nature of world history. The confusion over Eurocentric perspectives, the fictions of a ‘western civilization’, the equation of modernity and capitalism, and the fallacies, or rather the semantic fallacy, of secularism, in its definition as a core term, and many other issues crowd thought as the nature of the world as it come into existence from the sixteenth century still generates perplexity.
In this context the endgame of capitalism appears to be approaching and this aspect of modernity was prophetically analyzed in the earliest moment of the modern era, which we must distinguish from the modern transition. The remarkable fact is that the modern era began with a new form of economy, an Industrial Revolution, and a plan for a future rebellion, a revolution that we can see was to be the finale of the phase of globalization.
The issue of modernity is more than economics, as this potential revolution of the future, now our present, itself assumes, and if we examine the early modern, what we will call the modern transition, we can see that its context was only about capitalism at the last moment. Many will see the signs of gestation far earlier, but the essential content of the three centuries from the period of Luther and Copernicus is something far broader. In a way the marxist critique, both seminal and yet somehow incomplete, was excessive in its economic emphasis for the early is really about religion and its reformations, the scientific revolution, the onset of proto-liberalism in the seventeenth century as the Enlightenment begins its first phase. The era of Reformation yields to that of revolution and we see the beginnings of the democratic revolution in the English Civil War, thence to the realm of the French and American Revolutions at the end of the modern transition. It would seem that the core issue of marxism is too important to revise easily and yet this must be attempted because the classic is no longer the revolutionary: culture has shifted and the view from the end of capitalism, as we suspect, is not the view at its start when the influence of ideology, capitalist domination, and the distortion of democracy led to the classic formulation of the early communists, this taken over and organized by figures such as Marx and Engels.
The modern then claims all the issues at the core of the evolution of civilization, and the term ‘secular’ has become a misleading partisan term claimed by secular humanists but its real meaning is to the onset of modernity itself, and the Reformation makes it clear that religion is a part of modernity. But this is one of the points in contention and we need to consider this larger dimension of religious evolution in the context of the basic theme of the marxists. The idea of the secular needs to recover its larger semantics because the content of modernity, which includes a host of issues having nothing to do with atheism, is a complicated ‘dialectical spectrum’ of many opposites, and near opposite complements. And this is like a ‘reserve potential’ that we must claim to regenerate the modern.
For the reality is that our modern period is suffering a kind of distortion of its original premises and this can be seen either as decline or else as the willful corruption of the axioms of social politics. In the wake of 9/11 this drifting ship of state is obvious to the naked eye, but the signs were there much earlier. So the question has become not solely our query as to the nature of modernity but the added question, what has become of modernity?
This ironically is nothing new: almost within a decade of the end of the French Revolution the critics of modern decline began. The fist example is the communist movement arising in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. The rapid decay of democractic society in the context of Big Capital was almost instantaneous, and it almost seems as if modernity had produced wrong result. But this is not the case: as Marx/Engels noted the sixteenth century saw the birth of communism as a form of xtianity no less. So we see that the era of democratic revolution was already a form of, if not decline, then a misfire on the basis of its peculiar brand of ‘bourgois revolution
In general we can critique the modern transition, but we must also be vigilant against the distortions already arising in the early modern wake.

Tags: General

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment